Business Success Begins with a Love for Human Beings

There is a well-known tale of a management commentator who had a go at business himself and ended up bankrupt. One would think that if a management commentator simply practiced what he preached every day, he would be successful. So why did he fail?

According to one person, the management commentator probably knew too much about various things, so his employees and even his clients looked like fools to him. Well, he must surely at least have understood that his business would not get off the ground if he considered his clients to be fools. The problem, I think, is not that he saw others as fools but that he was unable to steer others.

That is to say, although he understood management theory, he did not know much about human beings. Conversely speaking, even if you do not know about things like management theory, you can be successful in business if you have an understanding of human beings. Someone who has mastered both management studies and human studies would seem to be invincible, but the reality is that God does not grant two gifts to one person.

Recently in this column I wrote about “respect the divine and love people.” The universe and nature came first, and human beings exist within their deep and loving embrace. Human beings exist in plurality. If there are three human beings, a society is formed. The mutual pandering between two people becomes difficult when there are three, so rules are set and selfishness restrained. When there is more than a twosome, human relations become more complex as well. They are softened by a large domain of trust, and they stiffen at times of distrust.

They say that God is a given, but I would say it is human beings that are a given. It is the existence of human beings that gives birth to everything. I believe it is extremely important to understand this point.

Of course, the above-mentioned management commentator also understood this fact theoretically, but that is not enough. It has to be second nature. There is a well-known story about Ishida Mitsunari (1560–1600), who in his youth was an attendant to the famous warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi, serving the thirsty Hideyoshi first with some lukewarm tea and then with some hot tea. I don’t think that Mitsunari mulled the situation in his head and foresaw that someone with a dry throat would gulp down his first drink. Rather, he acted from second nature as soon as he saw that the person before him was thirsty. You cannot take swift and appropriate action if you spend a long time pondering about everything.

Do you see the customers in your area only as people who spend their money at your business? Or do you think that your business only survives thanks to these customers? In the long term, it is the latter view that leads to overwhelming success.

I think it can be positively asserted that businesses will not be successful unless the owners have a good knowledge of human beings and love human beings. There is a saying that “theory sometimes leads to distrust, and conversely ignorance speaks the truth.” Perhaps this explains the outcome of the management commentator’s business.

Looking at our industry, I feel that people with a thorough knowledge of human beings have become active over the last few years. People who understand human beings are extremely attractive individuals themselves too.

For my part, I am at a stage where the ninth station has just come faintly into view. It is a long road ahead.